Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dissenters Under Attack Worldwide

This article was originally posted at on April 5th, 2008

Last year in Burma there was great unrest. Buddhist monks began to protest perceived injustices brought about by the heavy hand of too much government. Like people all over the world, these monks wanted more freedoms to run their own lives. Now, Buddhist monks are perhaps some of the most peaceful people in the world. They have a religious doctrine against harming others and, unlike some religions we in this country are more familiar with, they adhere to their tenets. Their protests were met with severe persecution and the type of violence that only the state could bring to bear on such peaceful individuals. People of conscience would not have been able to inflict such violence and torment on these monks, and yet soldiers are able to do so because the state orders them to, which absolves them of personal responsibility for their actions. Whether the state accomplishes this through training, brainwashing, or fear, or whether the individual soldier enjoys inflicting such violence on others hardly matters, that they are able and willing to conduct themselves in such a manner is what gives the state such awesome power.

Now Buddhist monks are again protesting, this time for Tibet’s freedom. Many expatriated Tibetans are protesting Chinese rule in their country and the Chinese government has cracked down on them hard. Again, much violence is reported. People have died trying to exercise their freedom to express their concerns. Whether you side with the Tibetans or the Chinese in the matter of Tibetan autonomy is inconsequential, people should be able to peacefully express their opinion without fear of reprisal no matter what that opinion is and no matter how many people disagree. If I believe black is white and white is black and every other person in the world knows otherwise, it is my right to be able to speak my mind and I should be able to do so without fear of government personnel macing, pepper spraying, beating, jailing, or otherwise trying to silence me so long as I am harming no one.

There are many peoples in this world who feel oppressed and are unable to speak out about it for fear of reprisal. Those who become brave enough to rise up and peacefully protest are usually quickly and brutally repressed. Governments worldwide have become well versed in making it appear as if these protesters became violent before they were attacked. They have been known to insert agent provocateurs into a crowd of protesters and use their actions to justify brutal crackdowns and massive arrests. Often the media seems only too happy to regurgitate the government’s point of view and propaganda without properly investigating incidents or reporting alternative points of view. It seems as if at times the media is in league with government to try to keep the larger portion of the populace complacent. As long as dissenters can be made to seem other than normal, common human beings, most “respectables” will do nothing and may wish to maintain the status quo.

At one time there was a place people could go to escape this kind of tyranny. That place was called America. This isn’t so true anymore. I see evidence everywhere that we’re already living in a police state. The FBI can now legally break into someone’s home and without their knowledge search through their personal effects. Our representatives in Washington DC are constantly bickering over the constitutionality of warrantless wiretaps. As if this should even be a topic of conversation in the United States. As if our policing agencies should take their place in history beside the Russian KGB and the East German Stasi as state apparatuses to keep the people in their proper place. I see the films of protestors being beaten, pepper sprayed and even shot with rubber bullets by the very police who are supposed to protect them right here in this country, in this nation where the right to speak one’s mind is supposed to be sanctioned and respected above just about all else by those representing government. Then I see these same police sanctimoniously laughing about their deeds without fear of being held accountable for them. Then I see films of them beating and harassing our youth doing nothing more than skateboarding. Skinny kids that are harming no one are subject to ridicule and abuse by men much larger and older who should know better. These police state tactics are used on a daily basis and the mass media hardly mentions it. Anyone who doesn’t access the web for their news would hardly know this was going on. Yet the Average Joe knows something is wrong, he can smell something amiss, but he can’t quite put his finger on what it is.

The right to dissent and disagree with another is a God given right. People, and therefore governments, can choose to handle this right of others in several different ways. They can accept that people have differing views, respect their right to express them, take these points of view into consideration and try to come to an acceptable solution or at the very least agree to disagree. This is what the Constitution of this great nation guarantees its citizens, a guarantee that is not currently being honored by many who have sworn an oath to do so. They can choose to ignore those who have decided to exercise their right to speak out against injustices, a decision the mass media seems to have made. Or they can choose to use force, threats, coercion and intimidation to silence those who would otherwise feel free to speak their minds, a course our government seems to have taken. This course may well be working for them as an increasingly worried populace continues to sit down and remain silent while hoping against hope that the very same people who got us into this mess, those who desire power over others and seem to relish exercising said power, will somehow change their tune and begin to respect our rights once again.

Dissent has been brutally quashed in other nations and in this nation of free men may soon be forced underground in the name of national security, the same excuse used by the Russian government, the Chinese government, and by kings, dictators and other authoritarian regimes throughout history. The United States of America was a country set up to create a multitude of sovereigns, not an aristocracy which would rule over the masses. If we are to regain our sovereignty from those who are trying to steal not only our freedoms, but our wealth and our future, we need to stand up and be strong in our demands. We have already been shown by great men that peaceful acts of civil disobedience can work wonders. Perhaps the time has come for such acts to take place en mass. It is time to speak out. It is time demand a return of our rights and to put this country back on the right track. It is time for our government to lift its attack on dissent and to take seriously the dissenters’ points of view, otherwise I shudder to think of the direction this country will take.

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